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Vocabulary is the fruit of understanding, without it there is confusion, incomprehension and conflict. Without vocabulary people can’t express their feelings or articulate their understanding. Worldviews that come from received wisdom, the common denominator of normality, lacking context and substance are commonplace. Without a credible source of knowledge the TV and print media are relied upon. You don’t keep customers by telling them that they are weak, wicked, ignorant hypocrites so tell people what they want to hear because that is all they will pay for. I’m trying really hard to listen. Listening is a rare skill but incredibly powerful if you can get the hang of it. I have only the most rudimentary understanding of how it’s done; I am a beginner. Far easier for me to make a point than listen. Listen for discussions and dialogue between people not listening to one another.

This is my intent; I want to know the views, beliefs, attitudes and opinions that are at variance with mine. I am now beginning to enjoy exploring why and how others think and behave. It’s fascinating and there are a common themes. Many of the unhappy people I meet display: Depression, fear, high self-esteem, procrastination, and bitterness. This is invariably targeted at those who are different: ethnic minorities, foreigners, homosexuals, politicians, clerics and intellectuals, are targeted for people to vent their anger. How is it that we are so much better off, both materially and physically, than previous generations and yet suffer unhappiness, stress and conflict? Why are our relationships under so much strain? There is an answer.

“watch your thoughts, they become your words, watch your words, they become your actions, watch your actions, they become your habits, watch your habits, they become your character, watch your character for it will become your destiny.”

I have been led down a path of considering the values that matter most. The values that have lasting virtue do not come from within, they have nothing to do with me, I am inconsequential. The values that matter will last for all time, they exist, are abstract and universal. It is popular to adopt fashionable values: family values, back to basics, ethical values etc. This is the path of least resistance, the path of consensus, the path that is the societal norm, to go with the flow; I am encouraged to follow convention, to be normal, it’s what everyone else does, the moral majority must be right. What happens when the majority are not moral? Look around. Today’s news included a report that our consumption of alcohol since the 1960s has increased several fold. This accompanies increases in obesity, diabetes, domestic violence, street crime, pervasive and conspicuous consumerism, STDs, abortions and marital breakdown; all wrapped in a climate of spiritual abstinence. Let me not, as is another all to common sense theme, blame the youth. The only people responsible are those who are older. I share with my peers and their parents responsibility for bringing us to this point in time where we are all caught up in our own pathetically short lives. There is a better way. It is not by seeking a life worth living, by countering the desire for accumulating material wealth, by measuring success through positive relationships.

People seem happy enough, what they don’t need is to be patronized by a hypocrite telling them how much more they could get from life. The choices are there for all to see. Many people have heard of other ways of living, it’s just they choose to live life their way, not follow some anachronistic code. It has its merits and maybe they’ll get around to it but in their time, in me time. For now they are busy seeking success. There is a convention that successful people have fun and are seen to be having fun. Fun people are popular ergo they must be interesting. The social pressures to follow the fun people are impressive so people spend their time convincing each other they are having fun. All the photos show laughing pleasure seekers – they must be having fun! I admit that there are great ways of having fun; playing peek-a-boo with a child, throwing a ball, charades, dancing or doing that flexibility test with a broom handle. I am less convinced that some of the way adults choose to have fun is all that enjoyable, especially when the outcomes are so often stress, misery, hangovers and illness. Why am I bothered? Because it would be selfish not to at least let it be known that the alternative could be considerably more rewarding. And I am not convinced people really understand the alternative.

There is a path that rides rough shod over all the nonsense that causes us stress, frustrations, anger, envy and bitterness towards the Russell Brands of life. Calling the moralist to forsake their sins against the God they know exists, to repent and humble themselves before the God who created them is an honour. It doesn’t necessarily win friends, it creates enemies, attracts derision and alienates one from those you we are called to love.

The world is desperate to shield us from our mortality. The alexia of youth is found through beauty treatments, escape from it all holidays to fulfill our dreams and desires, alcoholic beverages help us feel and look sexy and interesting, cigarettes provide strength of character and charm, sexy cars that prove you are charismatic, virile and successful. All these things are deigned to find us a comfortable passage through a troubled life. Wealthy executive, with superb educations and sharp minds know our weaknesses and use them to line their deep pockets with cash from our shallow ones. People buy the fantasy because the route of sacrifice, giving and humility is tough and ugly. Why wait for rewards when there is so much available now? I can have it all; credit, sex, drugs, rock and roll, fun and all the trimmings. This is, of course, extortionate abuse of the ignorant. The bells, whistles and the convenience have mesmerized us. “Thoughtless, greedy, gullible, idle, poorly educated and niaive people, exploiting each other to fuel the furnace of conspicuous consumerism” (my quote). Some retire to their ordered life in their leafy Surrey village, taking skiing holidays in the Alps and Summer breaks in the Dordogne. Meanwhile the others, ordinary common sense folk, spice up their godless lives by borrowing money to fly to overcrowded, overrated, cheap and cheerful parts of the globe to have fun in a drunken stupor. And ironically by the time they arrive the well heeled have moved on for the seclusion and respectable company that their wealth affords them. If you don’t like my characterization then that’s because it’s you and me folks and, apart from Sovereign Grace, we are off to hell in a handcart.

When I witness my peers displaying the same habits we shared when young, trying desperately to show their youthful vitality by partying hard, committing their very being to success, throwing their heart, soul and life into reaching their goal I wonder what is going on. I see sugar glazed cynicism, misery and despondency. Am I missing the happiness or is it simply not there? Now here’s the paradox because in amongst all this misery I find myself enjoying a life full of hope, love and meaning. It seems unfair. I have done nothing to deserve being in such a privileged place. The only thing I can really do is let people know that every breath is a gift. Many people have told me that running a marathon is too great a commitment. They admire those that do and part of them would like to run. I have learned though if you start your training gradually, carefully and thoughtfully, if you believe and persevere, not only do you run the race but you also complete the race.

Investments

Imagine you are a London City financier, it isn’t very hard I know. You have one client, in fact he is the City’s most important client. This is a prestigious account and you clearly have valued talents that enable you to manage his assets. However, there are idiosyncrasies to be considered. Each day he provides you 86,400 units to be invested. You can save none; all must be invested. The choice of investment platforms is yours. Whether you choose judiciously or in error, your client will continue to top up the account each day with 86,400 of his precious units. Most importantly, there is no saving any on deposit if the market is difficult, they must all go today. Only you have the measure of the value of the holdings. At the end of the day you can consider the value of the investments and at the outset of each day you can consider your investment strategy (this can be reviewed as the day proceeds). Your client is available 24 hours each day to provide you counsel on the investment path you take but he will always, always allow you to choose the direction. You have been empowered as the manager of these units and he would never undermine your authority. However, there is a catch. Whilst there may be dividends along the way, from which you may benefit, ultimately there will come a time when you will have to give an account for your decisions. There is no telling when that will be, it may be soon but being such an important client, who has already been so generous to you by bestowing upon you such awesome responsibility, you certainly do not have the temerity to ask when the account is to be closed. You will discover soon enough. Can you guess what it is yet? That’s right, it’s time. 86,400 fleeting seconds each day to do with as you think best. So, what is a useful investment strategy?

I try to follow one of my father’s guiding principles, “easy come, easy go”. Those things for which you have worked hard tend to be the things you value most. This works for just about anything I can think of. Marriages, in which you work hard each day to cherish, support and love your spouse. Belongings, that you have diligently laboured to create or maintain, have an intrinsically high value. Ever stood back from a thoroughly cleaned bicycle and felt its value to be so much more than when it was caked in winter grime? Investing wisely in physical training and carefully selected scholarly endeavours, overcoming obstacles and distractions by remaining diligent through trials can provide a healthy return. Work hard is therefore my guiding investment strategy.

So where are the flaws in my investment planning strategy, where can it go wrong? One word – “idleness”. Lazy minds and bodies are wasteful. Let me start by suggesting what lazy is not. Laziness is not an extra hour’s sleep, it is not cuddled up with the one you love on the sofa for an evening listening to music with a glass of wine, it is not taking a stroll or sitting in the rocking chair listening to the dawn chorus. These are activities, no matter how sedentary that you can invest your soul in. Idleness is passivity of the heart and head. Letting life wash over you carelessly and selfishly with your thumb up your bum and your mind in neutral. Falling victim to the world’s time stealers is the big threat. The TV sits in the corner of the room sucking in your intelligence by thinking for you. It takes over your creative neurons by providing pictures that rob your imagination of its proper role, it pumps out a narrative that is devised to appeal to our appetite for poisonous gossip, it seeks to satisfy our desire for watching others more miserable than ourselves, providing a kind of perverse satisfaction. We see actors pretending to have depths of emotions that we only wish we had. We become voyeurs in an unobtainable world of beauty, sexuality and knowledge that ultimately leads to a feeling of emptiness; that’s lazy. Have you ever finished an evening of TV watching and felt strangely void of any love for life? The TV is the first among many time stealers. Whether Facebook, online forums, aimless moments in shopping malls. Once we know our personal time stealers we can deal with them.

Of course it depends where your heart is, for one person’s time stealer provides another with connectivity, reward and insight. Activities that may seem futile to me, standing in supermarket queues, photocopying, raking leaves, sweeping streets, can be redeemed if your heart is set on Jesus Christ. Your boss seems an imbecile, your job mundane, your work colleagues dull or your debt grinding; there are ways to joy in these circumstances. Tackling adversity needs humility, determination and diligence. Try these – offer your adversary the hand of friendship, tackle a futile task with a sense of purpose, treat the least deserving person you meet today, maybe in the supermarket queue, with dignity and patience beyond any measure. Take care though. Try these things by your own efforts and you will be no different to the self serving moralists that set our cultural mandate. It is easy to be deceived. Only with Jesus Christ as your Lord, the author of life, the one who died for you, can you love others with the authentic love with which he first loved you.

86,400 fleeting seconds, make the most of them, there are no refunds.

At the gates of heaven there is a porthole to hell. (John Bunyan).

The senior psychiatric consultant from Scotland said that if his patients could be freed of their guilt half could go home. Guilt is paving your way to hell. The wages for sin is death, without the shedding of blood there is no redemption:

Atonement-Lamb

The bible says there are sheep and there are goats. Goats do not become sheep. It’s my hope that you are a sheep because if you are a goat it is not going well for you. If you are a sheep you will not be cast out. John 6:37.

Originally posted on Charismatic Episcopal Church:

Below is a sermon preached by the late Dr. S.M. Lockridge. Read it and hear him speak it


The video with his voice

“My King” – Dr. S.M. Lockridge

My King was born King. The Bible says He’s a Seven Way King. He’s the King of the Jews – that’s a racial King. He’s the King of Israel – that’s a National King. He’s the King of righteousness. He’s the King of the ages. He’s the King of Heaven. He’s the King of glory. He’s the King of kings and He is the Lord of lords. Now that’s my King. Well I wonder if you know Him.

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From A. W. Tozer

SATAN’S FIRST ATTACK upon the human race was his sly effort to destroy Eve’s confidence in the kindness of God. Unfortunately for her and for us, he succeeded too well. From that day, men have had a false conception of God, and it is exactly this that has cut out from under them the ground of righteousness and driven them to reckless and destructive living.

Nothing twists and deforms the soul more than a low or unworthy conception of God. Certain sects, such as Pharisees, while they held that God was stern and austere, managed to maintain a fairly high level of external morality; but their righteousness was only outward. Inwardly they were “white sepulchres,” as our Lord Himself told them.

Their wrong conception of God resulted in a wrong idea of worship. To a Pharisee, the service of God was a bondage which he did not love but from which he could not escape without a loss too great to bear. The God of the Pharisee was not an easy God to live with, so his religion became grim and hard and loveless. It had to be so, for our notion of God must always determine the quality of our religion.

Much Christianity since the days of Christ’s flesh has also been grim and severe. And the cause has been the same – an unworthy or an inadequate view of God. Instinctively we try to be like our God, and if He is conceived to be stern and exacting, so will we ourselves be.

From a failure to properly understand God comes a world of unhappiness among good Christians even today. The Christian life is thought to be a glum, unrelieved cross-carrying under the eye of a stern Father who expects much and excuses nothing. He is austere, peevish, highly temperamental, and extremely hard to please. The kind of life which springs out of such libelous notions must of necessity be but a parody on the true life in Christ.

The Danger of Trying to Please God
It is most important to our spiritual welfare that we hold in our minds always a right conception of God. If we think of Him as cold and exacting, we shall find it impossible to love Him, and our lives will be ridden with servile fear. If, again, we hold Him to be kind and understanding our whole inner life will mirror that idea.

The truth is that God is the most winsome of all beings and His service is one of unspeakable pleasure. He is all love, and those who trust Him need never know anything but that love. He is just, indeed, and He will not condone sin; but through the blood of the everlasting covenant He is able to act toward us exactly as if we had never sinned. Toward the trusting sons of men His mercy will always triumph over justice.

Fellowship with God is delightful beyond all telling. He communes with His redeemed ones in an easy, uninhibited fellowship that is restful and healing to the soul. He is not sensitive nor selfish nor temperamental. What He is today we shall find Him tomorrow and the next day and the next year. He is not hard to please, though He may be hard to satisfy. He expects of us only what He has Himself first supplied. He is quick to mark every simple effort to please Him, and just as quick to overlook imperfections when He knows we meant to do His will. He loves us for ourselves and values our love more than galaxies of newly created worlds.

Unfortunately, many Christians cannot get free from their perverted notions of God, and these notions poison their hearts and destroy their inward freedom. These friends serve God grimly, as the elder brother did, doing what is right without enthusiasm and without joy, and seem altogether unable to understand the buoyant, spirited celebration when the prodigal comes home. Their idea of God rules out the possibility of His being happy in His people, and they attribute the singing and shouting to sheer fanaticism. Unhappy souls, these, doomed to go heavily on their melancholy way, grimly determined to do right if the heavens fall and to be in the winning side in the day of judgment.

How good it would be if we could learn that God is easy to live with. He remembers our frame and knows that we are dust. He may sometimes chasten us, it is true, but even this He does with a smile, the proud, tender smile of a Father who is bursting with pleasure over an imperfect but promising son who is coming every day to look more and more like the One whose child he is.

Some of us are religiously jumpy and self-conscious because we know that God sees our every thought and is acquainted with all our ways. We need not be. God is the sum of all patience and the essence of kindly good will. We please Him most, not by frantically trying to make ourselves good, but by throwing ourselves into His arms with all our imperfections, and believing that He understands everything and loves us still.

Excerpted from The Root of the Righteous, chapter three, by A. W. Tozer (Download the entire book.)

Scientists recently called a news conference and announced a huge scientific breakthrough. They have designed a machine that turns grass-cuttings into milk. A spokesperson said the brilliantly made machine grinds the grass through rows of metal “teeth,” and then sends it to a total of four different compartmental containers that contain chemicals that turn the green liquid substance into white milk. He also said that the machine could be broken down at any time and used for clothing and food. He then smiled and said the obvious. The announcement was a joke, because scientists didn’t have a clue how to make grass from nothing that would turn into milk, then cream, cheese, butter, yoghurt and ice cream, let alone a machine that could do what the cow does as well as provide leather and meat for human consumption.

Some non-thinkers believe that the cow had no Designer. They believe that it was merely the result of nothing causing rocks that came from nowhere to explode for no reason. Then the scientifically impossible happened–non-life produced life. Sure.

When you live in Africa amongst people who tend not to have been duped by a nonsensical goo to zoo to you theory, you appreciate how Dawkins’ views are so astonishingly imperialistic, and arrogant. A friend told me that the Malawian public education syllabus does include the theory of evolution but he and his wife really couldn’t stop chuckling at the whole preposterous idea. I have met many Malawians in my work here and I can confidently say that the overwhelming majority fall into Dawkins category of ignorant, stupid or insane. You really have to be ignorant, stupid or insane to come out with a statement like this:

23-dawkins4

How to help the fool, as kindly as possible, see how foolish he really is:

“I have no problem with you being a coward. I have a problem when you try to shove your imaginary friend and his threats down my throat.” Torvus Messorem

There are three points to be made in regard to your comment. Each is hard to state without sounding a little rude. However, I will try to make the points congenial. The first is to point out that if something is going down your throat, your mouth is open. Close your mouth and listen with your ears to the gospel.

The second is that if you think I am shoving something “imaginary” down your throat the threats are also imaginary—they don’t exist. That’s like being upset because Cinderella’s fairy God-mother was threatening to turn you into a pumpkin if you didn’t get to bed by midnight.

The third is an obvious question. If you don’t like the Christian message, why park on a Christian site? Go away to an atheist site where you will feel more comfortable.

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